I pulled my Oldsmobile into the small dirt parking lot. I would come here often when I wanted to feel lighter, happier. The parking lot was reached by a very potholed dirt road running off of fourteenth street in Calgary’s northwest. The parking lot overlooked the district of Huntington Hills where I had lived aeons ago. It also offered an excellent view of Calgary International Airport in the distance. A WestJet 737 was just landing on the mile-long runway that ran north to south. I liked looking at the planes taking off and landing.
In lighter moments I would imagine myself sitting on the plane flying to some exotic destination. In darker moments I would think this would be a great place to launch a SAM missle from.
This day I was in a dark place. A really, really dark place. I got out of the Olds before I did something rash, like crash the car through the rickety fence, drive breakneck down the hill, onto fourteenth street, hopefully in the path of a semi. I started up the path I had walked countless times. Then I noticed it. A button flower blooming in the sere prairie grass. It is missing a few petals but it is still the most vibrant plant around.
I look at my watch. Shit! I let the time get away from me watching jets take off and land. I had a coffee date with Annie at Bell’s Bookstore Cafe. I hustled down to my car. Got in. Started it. Reversed into the parking area. Drove down the dirt entry road, rocking on my springs all the way. I turned onto fourteenth street. I was grateful that Bell’s was on thirty fourth avenue just a half block in from fourteenth street southwest. If the traffic was light I could just make the coffee date with Annie.
Luckily I found a parking spot next to Bell’s. I hadn’t been to Bell’s in years. It was too far from home and I had developed a fondest for the energy of the Good Earth Cafe near my home. At Bell’s I really liked the fact you could drink a coffee, snack on a muffin, and search the shelves for second-hand paperbacks. You could even take the books to your table for a closer examination. Although if you spilled coffee on the book it was yours to buy. Annie was nowhere in sight. So I ordered an Americano. I skipped the muffin because they had nothing that appealed to me. I started browsing the bookshelves. I started where I always started. With the mysteries. Hmm. A Prey novel that I hadn’t seen before, I thought.
Just then I heard the coffee shop door open to let in the wind and the noise of the street. There was Annie. All 5 feet of her. Flaming red hair. Touselled by the wind. A white silk scarf wound seemingly carelessly around her neck. A black leather jacket hugged her slight frame. A matching black leather skirt modestly hugged her knees. A black blouse made of some shiny material, probably silk, peeked out of the collar of her jacket. I waved and pointed to our table. Walked over and hugged her. The scent of Chanel No. 5 gently wafted up from her. I hugged her for seconds longer because I was secretly in lust with her.
I said, “you look great as always. How are you doing?”
“So, so,” she said. “My ex is being a pain. I’ve told you we bought some property in the South years ago, as an investment. I want to sell it. But he wants to hang on it till the market goes up. The market for that property will never go up in our life times.”
“So. How are you?”
I took a risk and told her how I really felt. “The pain is bloody awful. I lay awake at night in agony. The doctors have prescribed countless kinds of pills. But, nothing works. If this keeps up I’m going to drive my car into a concrete wall.” I said. I didn’t tell Annie I had already rehearsed such a movie.
“Don’t say that Lyle,” she said. “There must be another answer. Maybe Yoga. I do Kundalini Yoga and it really helps me relax.”
“Did yoga. Didn’t work.”
We continued the converstation. She proposing remedies and me naysaying them. Finally, we wound up our cheery coffee date and I drove home to my apartment.
It was 15 days till I would hit the wall.
An exerpt from CRASH! Memories of an Healing Journey, Lyle T. Lachmuth, All Rights Reserved